Persecution: Scattered Together & Accompanied By the Holy Spirit

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of Jesus of Nazareth which was the church as it was written and recorded by Luke in the book of Acts. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the first twenty-five verses of the eighth chapter. “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).

 

            “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in the city” (Acts 8:5-8).

 

            “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:9-13).

 

            “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part not lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which y e have spoken come upon me. And they, when they had testified and preached the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel in many villages of the Samaritans” (Acts 8:14-25).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find one of the most powerful transitions in church history. If you spend time reading the New Testament book of Acts you will quickly notice that it is a book which was written to chronicle the events surrounding the apostles and the followers of Jesus of Nazareth after His ascension unto the right hand of the Father and the arrival of the Holy Ghost. The entire New Testament book of Acts is centered upon the spiritual reality and manifestation of the body of Christ in the earth as an extension and continuation of what He had done and performed while upon the earth. In all reality it’s quite interesting to consider the words which the apostle John wrote in the first chapter of his gospel narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. Within this opening chapter he emphatically writes how the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us and that we beheld His glory as of the glory of the eternal God. What makes this all the more astonishing and intriguing when you take the time to consider it is that when Jesus came to the earth as the Logos and eternal Word of God in the flesh there was a physical body which was prepared for Him. This physical body was made up of flesh and blood as the second member of the triune Godhead would come down unto the earth and dwell within this earthly tent and tabernacle. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that for thirty-three and a half years the second person of the triune Godhead—although He laid and set aside the glory He had with the Father from the beginning—would take upon Himself the form of human flesh. As Jesus came to the earth He would indeed and would in face take upon Himself a physical body made up of flesh and blood that He might dwell among us as the living Word.

 

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay careful attention to the tremendous truth surrounding Jesus as the second member of the triune Godhead taking upon Himself the form of physical flesh for not only was it the manifestation of the Word which was in the beginning with God, and the Word which was in the beginning, and the Word which in the beginning was God being made flesh but it was also about the living and eternal God Himself dwelling among us. When Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh and dwelt among us—not only was it a manifestation of the Word being made flesh but it was also a manifestation of God Himself dwelling with us. Oh we must needs recognize and pay close attention to this as it calls and draws our attention to the awesome and powerful truth surrounding Jesus of Nazareth and how He not only took upon Himself the seed of the woman as the second Adam but also as He took upon Himself the seed of Abraham. Jesus of Nazareth—the second member of the triune Godhead—came unto this earth and confined Himself to the limitations, boundaries, restrictions and everything that was associated with being made up of flesh and blood. What’s more is that Jesus would leave the realm of the immortal and eternal for the realm of time and space and would be confined and limited to some of the very same elements we ourselves experience. Hunger, fatigue, thirst, tiredness, hurt, pain, suffering, weakness and so much more were indeed experienced by Jesus of Nazareth while He walked upon the earth as the Word which was made flesh and dwelt among us. Oh we dare not lose sight of this for it not only helps us understand His time upon the earth but also that of the apostles and followers which remained in the earth after His departure from the earth and ascension unto the right hand of the Father.

 

            It is indeed true that the second member of the triune Godhead set apart the glory He had with the Father from the beginning and took upon Himself flesh and blood that He might dwell among us. The second member of the triune Godhead did in fact have a physical and natural body that was prepared for Him when He came to the earth as He would be born unto the virgin Mary and would proceed to grow within the earth—born in Bethlehem, lived in Egypt for a certain period of time, grew up and lived in Nazareth, and then spent three and a half years between Judaea and Galilee. I have to admit there is something absolutely incredible about the concept of the Lord Jesus Christ taking upon Himself the form of flesh and blood and choosing to dwell and inhabit within a physical body here upon the earth for it was in all reality a symbol and sign of what would be to come. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we wish to understand the spiritual realities found in the New Testament book of Acts we must needs recognize and pay attention to the fact that for thirty years Jesus dwelt among us as the Word made flesh which dwelt among us in obscurity. For three and a half years He would dwell among us as the Word made flesh in manifestation, in demonstration and in power and might. It would be in the town of Nazareth where He had grown up He would emphatically declare unto those in the synagogue how the Spirit of the LORD was upon Him and had anointed Him to preach good tidings to the poor and to heal the sick and to open blinded eyes and open prison doors. It would be in the town of Nazareth He would boldly proclaim that the words which the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah had prophesied were not only fulfilled before their eyes during that day but that He Himself had fulfilled and would fulfill the words which were spoken by this Hebrew prophet.

 

            I sit here today thinking about that which I have previously written about Jesus Himself coming into the earth and dwelling within a single physical body made up of flesh and blood and how it was a symbol and sign of what was to come concerning the Holy Spirit. If we spend time reading and studying what Scripture speaks of concerning the Holy Spirit we must needs recognize and acknowledge that the Holy Spirit would also dwell within flesh and blood. The one difference between the Holy Spirit and Jesus was that whereas Jesus dwelt in one single physical body made up of flesh and blood the Holy Spirit would dwell in the physical bodies of countless men and women which were made up of flesh and blood. Jesus Himself would dwell in bodily form as one single man who walked among us as the Word made flesh and as Immanuel God with us and yet when the Holy Ghost came He would come that through Him the eternal Father and only begotten Son of the Father might not only come unto us but might also dwell among us. Remember when Jesus spoke unto His disciples in the upper room after supper had been ended and declared unto them that He would come unto them, that He would not leave them comfortless, that both He and the Father would come unto them, and that He would send another Comforter unto them? What we must needs realize and recognize concerning the Holy Ghost is that through the Holy Ghost Jesus of Nazareth came unto the apostles and followers which were present during the days of the early Church and would be manifested in the earth ever since then. While it is true that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed Immanuel which interpreted means “God with us” then it is also true the Holy Ghost is the manifestation of God dwelling among us in the midst of the earth. When Jesus came to the earth the first time He came in the form of flesh and blood that He might dwell with us whereas when He came to the earth a second time He would dwell within us through the person of the Holy Spirit.

 

            I must admit that I am entirely and altogether amazed and astonished at the words which are found here in the New Testament gospels as well as the New Testament book of Acts for essentially we have a description of two distinct bodies of Christ which were present within the earth. In all reality there were and there have been two bodies which have been made for Jesus Christ as the second member of the triune Godhead within the earth. The first body which was prepared and made ready for Jesus of Nazareth was indeed that physical form which He took upon Himself when He laid aside the glory He had with the Father and took upon Himself the form of flesh and blood. The second body which was prepared and made ready for Jesus the Christ was a spiritual body which was still made up of flesh and blood yet was made up of many members. What we must needs recognize and understand is that the narrative which is found in the New Testament book of Acts is a discourse concerning a spiritual body present in the earth which was not only prepared for Jesus of Nazareth but also for the Holy Ghost. It would be through this new and spiritual body which was made without hands and yet was made up of flesh and blood that Jesus would not only come unto us but would also dwell within us through the Holy Spirit. It would be through this spiritual body the Holy Ghost would indeed clothe Himself with members made up of flesh and blood present in the earth. In the days of the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would come upon certain men and women for specific purposes and would essentially clothe men and women with Himself, His presence and His power. In the New Testament, however, the Holy Ghost would not clothe and come upon men and women but would actually clothe Himself within physical temples and bodies made up of flesh and blood.

 

            The more we read the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts as well as the words written in each of the New Testament epistles the more we need to come face to face with the striking and powerful truth surrounding the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Ghost did indeed come to the earth as the Comforter which Jesus of Nazareth did indeed speak of and mention, however, the Holy Ghost came to the earth that He might not only clothe Himself with us but might also dwell within us. When Jesus took upon Himself the form of human flesh and blood He was confined to the limitations, boundaries and restrictions surrounding that physical body as He could only be in one place at a single time. Through the Holy Ghost, however, Jesus could not only dwell within many physical bodies made up of flesh and blood but He could also transcend geographical borders and boundaries as well as time itself. Pause for a moment and think about the fact that the Holy Ghost would come to the earth and clothe Himself with the physical bodies of flesh and blood as He would dwell within the apostles and followers of Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the fact that the Holy Ghost would not come to the earth as a behind the scenes spirit or ghost that would hover over and upon the earth as He had done in the beginning. Moses wrote how in the beginning the earth was formless and void and how the Spirit hovered over the waters, however, we must needs recognize and understand that the Holy Ghost did not come to the earth to hover over the waters nor even to hover over us as some spiritual and supernatural presence abiding all around us. The Holy Ghost came unto and among us that He might dwell within and inhabit us as He would clothe Himself with flesh and blood.

 

            In all reality I would dare say that if we wish to truly understand the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts we must turn and direct our attention to the sixth chapters of both epistles which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the twelfth chapter of the first epistle. It would be in the sixth chapter of each of these epistles the apostle would write and emphatically declare how we are indeed the temple of the Holy Ghost and that through the Holy Ghost the eternal God would not only teach us directly but would also dwell within and among us. Moreover it would be in the twelfth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the Corinthians the apostle Paul would write how there is one body made unto the Lord Jesus Christ which is made up of and comprised of many members. What we must needs understand is that there is and there has been within the earth one single body which was made ready and prepared for the Lord Jesus Christ and for the Holy Spirit that He might dwell within and among us. Although Jesus would ascend unto the right hand of the Father and would no longer abide in the form of flesh and blood there would indeed remain a body remaining upon the earth which would be prepared for Him. Jesus would indeed ascend unto the right hand of the Father and would leave flesh and blood behind to once more take upon Himself the glory He had with the Father, however, He would continue to dwell in the midst of a body made up of flesh and blood. The fundamental difference between the two is that the body of flesh and blood Jesus would have remaining within the earth was not single physical body but would be a spiritual body made up of many members. Within the earth there would indeed be a spiritual body which was made up of many members and it would be those members that would be made up of flesh and blood. Moreover the Holy Ghost would also dwell within and inhabit this spiritual body which was made up of many members all comprising flesh and blood. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the first and second epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints as well as the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of the epistle written unto the Ephesian congregation:

 

            “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I Then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body: but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:16-20).

 

            “Be not unequally yoke together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

 

            “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).

 

            “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole wear hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestowe more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempred the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body: but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

 

            “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, on baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth:? He that descended is same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).

 

            Oh dear reader please do not miss the awesome and incredible importance of what is found within each of these passages for within them—not only do we encounter the tremendous truth that we are indeed the temple of the Holy Ghost but we are also the body of Christ. The more I read and study the four gospels and the New Testament book of Acts this year the more I am brought face to face with the undeniable truth that when Jesus came to the earth the first time He took upon Himself the form of flesh and blood that He might dwell among us. The first time Jesus came to the earth He took upon Himself a physical body which had been prepared for Him from before the foundation of the world by the eternal Father. Jesus would indeed be born of the virgin Mary and would be born within this physical frame of flesh and blood that would eventually grow up to become the man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus came to the earth as the Word which was made flesh and as Immanuel which was God with us and we have great need of understanding and recognizing this. There is something to be said about the physical body which Jesus took upon Himself for when He ascended unto the right hand of the Father He would shed that flesh and blood—much like He shed the grave clothes when He emerged from the grave and laid aside His garments in the upper room and took up the towel to wash the feet of the disciples. Despite the fact that Jesus would shed the physical body of flesh and blood when He ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven He would indeed have a new body which would remain within and upon the earth. Although Jesus would shed that physical body made up of flesh and blood which He dwelt within for more than three decades He would have a spiritual body made up of many members which would not only remain in the earth during those days after His departure but would remain in the earth throughout history every since then.

 

            There is something absolutely incredible about the truth surrounding the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost have a spiritual body made up of many members of flesh and blood present within the earth for ever since the day of Pentecost both the Holy Ghost and Jesus of Nazareth have been dwelling within and abiding with the people of God. In all reality this was the divine plan of the eternal God from the days of old for the words which the apostle Paul used in the second epistle written unto the Corinthians were taken from one of the Hebrew prophets who caught glimpses of the future and what would come. There are those who would like to think that when Jesus returns with the glory of His Father together with all His holy angels that this is indeed His second coming. The truth of the matter, however, is that I do not at all believe this is the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Scripture clearly points to and demonstrates the fact that when Jesus came to the earth the first time He came in the form of flesh and blood that He might dwell with and among us here upon the earth. Jesus would in fact come a second time yet this second time He would not come in the form of human flesh and blood but would come in the form of Spirit that He might dwell within us where we are. When Jesus returns and comes again with all the holy angels He will not come in flesh and blood nor will He come in Spirit but will come in the glory of His Father that were might dwell with Him where He is. Oh we must needs understand this gradual progression of the different manifestations of the Lord Jesus Christ for what would begin as dwelling with would transition to dwelling within and would culminate in us dwelling with He and the Father and the Spirit together with all the angels together where they are in glory.

 

            Throughout the New Testament book of Acts we find this spiritual body which was prepared for and made ready by the Father continuing to increase and grow within the earth. You cannot read the New Testament book of Acts and not encounter the awesome and powerful truth that what would begin with one-hundred and twenty members of a small group of disciples and followers of Jesus would eventually grow in size and number within the city of Jerusalem. Within the first seven chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find how on the first day of the early Church after the arrival of the Holy Spirit this spiritual body would increase by three thousand members. Stop and consider the fact that in a single day the spiritual body of Christ which originally comprised of one-hundred and twenty members would grow and increase by three thousand members. By the time the day of Pentecost was over the spiritual body of Jesus would indeed be made up of more than three thousand souls which would be the temple of the Holy Ghost. Building upon this even further you will read in the New Testament book of Acts in another place how that number would grow to five thousand members. Within the New Testament book of Acts we find three distinct numbers—one-hundred and twenty, three thousand, and five thousand—all which directly point to the fact that although Jesus would shed that single body made up of flesh and blood which was present within the earth He would raise up a new spiritual body made up of many members of flesh and blood. No longer would Jesus dwell within a single physical body made up of flesh and blood but Jesus would now dwell within a spiritual body made up of many members of flesh and blood. What’s more is that within the opening seven chapters of the New Testament book of Acts we find how the Lord would add to this number daily such as should be saved and how the number of disciples would continue to increase and multiply upon the earth.

 

            As I sit here today I can’t help but think about and consider how absolutely astonishing this truly is concerning the spiritual body of Jesus being made up of many members. What’s more is that it would be through the person of the Holy Ghost that Jesus would be able to abide and dwell within each of these members at the same time regardless of where they lived, regardless of whether they be slave or free, regardless of whether they be Jew or Greek. When the Holy Ghost came to the earth on the day of Pentecost He came for more than simply to give unto men utterance to speak with other tongues. The Holy Ghost came to the earth on the day of Pentecost that through Him Jesus of Nazareth who had previously dwelt among us in a singular body of flesh and blood might dwell within us in our own physical bodies of flesh and blood. Stop for a moment and think about the fact that you have the opportunity for the triune Godhead to dwell inside of you and that just as the fulness of God dwelt in bodily form in the person of Jesus so also can the fulness of God dwell within us. Though we be many members we are all one body which was made without human hands and which make up that spiritual body which the Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost can dwell within. No longer would Jesus merely dwell with us in the form of physical flesh but would dwell within us as we ourselves are made up of flesh and blood. This must be so for while we are on the earth the fulness of God through the presence of the triune Godhead dwells within us in the natural and physical realm. This is of course until that moment when the trumpet will sound, when Jesus will descend with a shout, and with the voice of an archangel will come for us. Oh when Jesus came in the form of human flesh and blood He came unto us and when He came again in the person of the Holy Spirit He would once more come unto us. When, however, He comes in the glory of His Father He would come and return for us that where we are we might also dwell and abide.

 

            I am absolutely captivated with this particular truth as it brings us face to face with the awesome reality that when Jesus ascended unto the right hand of the Father there was a plan in motion to prepare and make ready a spiritual body which Jesus would inhabit and dwell within upon the earth. Jesus would indeed shed the physical form of flesh and blood which He Himself personally dwelt within and yet would take up a new and living body which would be made up of many members. The Lord Jesus Christ would indeed dwell within a new and spiritual body yet one that would be made up of many members within and upon the earth. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider this for Jesus would continue to dwell with us and though we be many members He would dwell with and within us. Through the person of the Holy Ghost Jesus would not only come unto us but would also come into us that He might dwell within us and with us wherever we are. What’s more is that the physical body made up of flesh and blood which Jesus would inhabit and dwell within wouldn’t merely be one single body but would be many members and bodies. What we must needs understand concerning the body of Christ is that it is made up of many members each made up of flesh and blood as they are the temple of the Holy Ghost. It is through the person of the Holy Ghost that Jesus was not only able to return and come again unto us but also might dwell and abide within us. It is through the person of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ might continue to be present within the earth though not in the same manner of flesh and blood which He once took upon Himself. Through the person of the Holy Ghost Jesus is able to have a body in the earth that would transcend one physical body and would indeed be made up of many members who would each comprise and make up this new and spiritual body made for Christ in the earth.

 

            It is necessary that we understand all of this for when we come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we not only continue to find this spiritual body being present in the earth but we also find this spiritual body beginning to move upon and throughout the earth. If there is one thing the opening verses of the eighth chapter of this book demonstrates and points to it’s that the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ was never designed, created nor intended to remain within the city of Jerusalem. Although the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were instructed to tarry in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father and be endowed with power from on High they were never destined to remain in Jerusalem. Their tarrying and abiding in the midst of the city of Jerusalem was indeed designed for them to remain in the midst the city that they might be properly positioned for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. There would be a short period of time when the spiritual body of Christ would abide and remain in the city of Jerusalem, however, there would eventually come the time when this spiritual body would need to move beyond Jerusalem and would need to begin to move within and throughout the earth. There would eventually come a point in time when the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ would need to step into and fulfill that which the Lord Jesus declared when He spoke of their being witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Within the first seven chapters of this New Testament book we find the Church being witnesses in Jerusalem and yet we fail to see the Church being witnesses for Christ in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. This, however, would all change when we come to the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as Luke records a great persecution that would break out in the city of Jerusalem. It would be this great persecution that would force the followers of Jesus of Nazareth to be scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria.

 

            If you begin reading with and from the opening verses of the eighth chapter you will find that after the death of Stephen there would emerge one from among the Jews by the name of Saul who was consenting unto his death. Immediately after reading the name of Saul we find that at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at. Jerusalem. As a direct result of this persecution they would all be scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Oh I am absolutely convinced we must needs pay close attention to this for there was a divine purpose behind and in the midst of this persecution. It was indeed true that Jesus declared unto His disciples and followers that they would be His witnesses in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth yet He did not mention how they would come to be witnesses in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. Nowhere in the four gospels nor even in the first and opening chapter of this book do we find Jesus mentioning unto the disciples and His followers the catalyst and instrument that would not only prompt them to be witnesses in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth but would also ensure that it took place. It isn’t until we come to the eighth chapter of this New Testament book that we find this spiritual body—this living organism made without human hands that grew within the earth—beginning to move upon and throughout the earth. The church would for a season remain and abide in the city of Jerusalem, however, just as the Holy Ghost was never intended on remaining and abiding in the upper room so also was the Church never intended on remaining in the city of Jerusalem. Eventually there would come the point in time when the Lord Jesus Christ would in fact take His spiritual body and move it throughout the earth beginning in Judaea and Samaria.

 

            The opening verses of the eighth chapter of this New Testament book is absolutely fascinating when you take the time to consider it for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the catalyst and instrument that would move the Church beyond the city of Jerusalem and unto Judaea and Samaria. It is at this particular point in time when the Lord Jesus Christ would begin to move His spiritual body which remained in the earth beyond the city of Jerusalem and into the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Eventually the time would come when the spiritual body of Jesus would need to spread throughout the earth as this living organism would continue to grow and spread throughout the earth. What would begin as a small mustard seed in the city of Jerusalem and would be planted there in Jerusalem would experience growth in the midst of Jerusalem but would then begin to spread beyond Jerusalem and would first come into Judaea and Samaria. The manifestation of the Holy Ghost would indeed be present and manifested within the city of Jerusalem, however, the person and presence of the Holy Spirit would not be confined to the city of Jerusalem. Eventually the time would come when the Holy Ghost would move the spiritual body of Jesus beyond the city of Jerusalem as both the body and the gospel might be manifested in the regions of Judaea and Samaria. The interesting thing surrounding this is that it would be persecution which would be the instrument and catalyst for the moving of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout Judaea and Samaria. Of course we know from reading the book of Acts that the Church would eventually spread out unto and among the Gentiles, however, it would first spread unto and move within Judaea and Samaria.

 

            I am sitting here reading the words found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and I am brought face to face with the fact that it was persecution that would force the spiritual body of Jesus to move beyond the city of Jerusalem and be scattered unto the regions of Judaea and Samaria. Oh I am convinced that much like the original command given unto man to be fruitful and multiply as well as given unto Noah was also given unto the Church and spiritual body of Jesus the Christ. I am absolutely convinced that within the first seven chapters of this New Testament book we find the church being fruitful and multiplying and we find the church growing, however, there was still something that was missing from the church. Oh the growth which the Church experienced was indeed necessary and it was indeed valuable during those days, however, I would dare say that the entire purpose for the growth of the Church during those early days as mentioned in the first seven chapters was to make this spiritual body large enough that it might be able to spread within and throughout Judaea and Samaria. The text seems to indicate that as a direct result of this persecution which would break out in the city of Jerusalem all but the apostles were scattered abroad. The apostles would remain and abide in the city of Jerusalem while the Church itself would be scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria. What’s more is that Luke goes on to write that with this scattering came the preaching of the word as everywhere they were scattered they would continue preaching the word concerning Jesus of Nazareth and the kingdom of heaven. Even though they would be scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Galilee they would take the person and presence of the Holy Spirit with them as well as the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth.

 

TAKING THE PRESENCE WITH YOU! TAKING THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY GHOST WITH YOU! TAKING THE GOSPEL WITH YOU! TAKING THE PRESENCE AND THE MESSAGE WITH YOU! SCATTERED WITH A MESSAGE AND PRESENCE! THOUGH THE CHURCH BE SCATTERED IT WOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE GOSPEL AND THE PRESENCE! Oh if there is one thing I find absolutely incredible when reading the words found in these opening chapters of the book of Acts it’s that not only did the Holy Ghost come upon, baptize, fill and dwell within the early Church and followers of Jesus the Christ but He also caused the body itself to grow. Scripture is entirely unclear how large the spiritual body of Christ had grown by the time Stephen would become the church’s first martyr and by the time this great persecution would break out against the church in the city of Jerusalem, however, suffice it to say that it was large enough for it to spread throughout and be scattered abroad within Judaea and Samaria. We don’t know just how large the spiritual body of Christ and the early Church had indeed become but we do know that as a direct result of this great persecution that broke out against it in the city of Jerusalem it would indeed and would in fact spread like wild fire throughout Judaea and Samaria. Oh I find myself wondering just how many disciples and followers of Jesus Christ actually spread within and were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria as a direct result of this persecution. How many disciples and followers of Jesus Christ were scattered within and throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria and what was it like as both of these regions began experiencing an influx of those who were preaching this gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth—one whom some and/or many of them had already experienced? I would like to think that there was a great number of men and women from within the spiritual body of Christ were scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria and that which Jesus had not done while in the flesh would begin to be done through His spiritual body upon the earth.

 

            One of the greatest truths surrounding the persecution of the early Church and their being scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria is the fact that when they were spread out across these two regions they would not come of themselves nor by themselves. I find it absolutely incredible to read the words found in the fourth verse of this chapter as Luke wrote of those who were scattered preaching the word in those places wherein they were scattered. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the Church was scattered abroad throughout the Judaea and Samaria they were not only accompanied by the person and presence of the Holy Ghost but they were also accompanied by the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth. When the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria they would bring with them the person of the Holy Spirit as well as the message of Jesus. What’s more is that through this spiritual body one might even say that Jesus of Nazareth did Himself return unto both through the members of His spiritual body. We know that while Jesus was in the form of flesh and blood He would move within Judaea as He would teach, preach and perform signs, wonders and miracles, and we even know that Jesus would come unto the town of Sychar in the region of Samaria on His way to Galilee. This is quite unique when you think about the fact that through His spiritual body which was the early Church Jesus Himself would come unto and return to some of these same regions. Scripture does not mention where in Judaea the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ actually went to and the eighth chapter itself primarily deals with Philip going unto Samaria and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ unto them. What we must needs understand is that when the early Church was scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria they did not go alone but were accompanied by the person and presence of the Holy Ghost. Moreover they would bring with them the gospel concerning this Jesus of Nazareth as they would preach the message everywhere they went.

 

            How absolutely incredible it is to read the words found in the eighth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for within it we find persecution as being the catalyst and instrument that would cause the early Church to spread beyond the city of Jerusalem. It would be through persecution in the midst of the city of Jerusalem that the early church would indeed spread and be scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria and would not only bring the presence of the Holy Spirit with them but would also bring the message concerning Jesus of Nazareth with them. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely captivated with the fact that when the early Church was scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria—not only was there in part a return of the person of Jesus Christ through His spiritual body but there would also be the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. When these members of the spiritual body were spread about and scattered abroad within Judaea and Samaria they would not come alone but would come with each other and would come accompanied by the Holy Spirit. ACCOMPANIED BY EACH OTHER, ACCOMPANIED BY THE HOLY GHOST! Pause for a moment and consider how remarkable and fascinating this truly is when you read of the early Church being scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria and how they would not only be scattered by themselves but would be scattered together and accompanied by the Holy Ghost. SCATTERED TOGETHER, SCATTERED ACCOMPANIED BY THE HOLY GHOST! We must needs recognize and understand this and how absolutely captivating it truly is for when the early church experienced persecution against it in the midst of the city of Jerusalem it would be that persecution that would cause them to be scattered together throughout Judaea and Samaria as well as scattered accompanied by the Holy Ghost.

 

            Perhaps one of the most incredible truths surrounding the events recorded in the opening verses of this chapter is that although the early Church experienced tremendous persecution in the city of Jerusalem Jesus had taught and prepared them for it and provided them with a Comforter who would be present with them in the midst of it. Although the disciples and followers of Christ would be scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria they would not go or do it alone as they would both have each other as well as the person and presence of the Holy Spirit. The early Church and followers of Jesus would indeed be scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria, however they would indeed find themselves being scattered together with their brethren as well as accompanied by the Holy Spirit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for although we might be persecuted and although we might be scattered we are not alone. One of the most challenging truths we find ourselves needing to accept when we are experiencing persecution, or are experience suffering, or are being scattered is that we have the company and fellowship of our brethren as well as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. It would be very easy for us to walk through persecution and be scattered abroad as we are forced to leave our homes and our possessions and lose sight of the fellowship of the brethren and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The truth of the matter, however, is that despite our being scattered and despite our being persecuted we have been given each other, we have been given the Holy Spirit and we have been given a message. Stop for a moment and consider those three realities for if you do it will give you tremendous perspective on what you walk through and face in this life. We have a great and present need within our hearts and spirits to recognize and understand that regardless of what we have been doing through we have been given a company and fellowship of brethren, we have been given the company and fellowship of the Holy Ghost and we have been given the wonderful message of Jesus of Nazareth. It is with this in mind I would like you to consider the following words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fourth and fifth chapters of the first epistle he wrote unto those saints which were scattered abroad:

 

            “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christ, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:12-19).

 

            “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you pefect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

 

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand what is presented in each of these passages for when we read of a great persecution breaking out in Jerusalem against the early church and their being scattered abroad we must needs understand that they were not scattered alone. One of the greatest truths surrounding the words written and recorded in this passage of Scripture is that Luke records how all but the apostles were scattered abroad throughout Judaea and Samaria. Imagine what it must have been like in the cities of Samaria as well as the cities of Judaea to witness this huge insurgence and influx of disciples and followers of Jesus of Nazareth. We know that while Jesus was present in the flesh upon the earth He sent His disciples out two by two having given them power against unclean spirits to cast them out, as well as to heal all manner of sickness and disease. We know that He gave them power to cleanse the lepers, to preach the gospel to the poor and to be His ambassadors in the midst of the cities of Judaea and Galilee. What’s more is we know that Jesus would ordain and appoint another seventy whom he would send out two by two giving them power and authority against unclean spirits and to heal the sick and preach the gospel. Stop and consider the fact that while Jesus walked upon the earth one would become thirteen and would ultimately become eighty-three as an additional seventy would be sent out. During the days Jesus walked upon the earth one person would become six unique groups each made up of two disciples as well as thirty-five different groups comprised of two individuals in each. Take this same math and multiplication and project it onto what happened during the days of the early church when persecution broke out against the Church in the midst of the city of Jerusalem. Stop and consider what it would have been like for the early church to be scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria as one body made up of many parts who were sent forth in the company of the brethren, accompanied by the Holy Ghost, and carrying the message of the gospel. Oh that we would be those who would indeed and would in fact go forth into the earth as those who are joined together in the company of the brethren, accompanied by the Holy Spirit, and carrying the gospel concerning Jesus of Nazareth.

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